165,000 homes could be built without local scrutiny

The Local Government Association has warned that current housebuilding targets are running the risk of allowing nearly 165,000 new homes to bypass scrutiny by the local community.

Council leaders are urging the government to abandon its planned changes to the National Policy Planning Framework which will impose sometimes ‘undeliverable’ housebuilding targets on local areas and penalise councils and communities left powerless to ensure they are met. Local areas will be expected to meet new housing targets imposed by Whitehall. If private house builders fail to build more than 75 per cent of those targets by 2020, then developers will be able to ignore sites agreed locally and build in places that communities did not want to include in local plans.

If that goes ahead, more than half of the target homes – which is calculated at just shy of 165,000 homes in 42 per cent of council areas - could be built by bypassing local plans by the end of the decade. This could leave house builders in a position where they may be able to avoid of local factors, such as ensuring the right types of homes are built in the right places, that homes have appropriate infrastructure and that enough affordable homes needed locally are actually provided.

Martin Tett, LGA Housing spokesman, said: “The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding – the opposite is true. Councils are approving nine in 10 applications and last year worked with developers to approve 350,000 new homes, the highest in more than a decade. It is completely unfair to impose targets on communities which can only be met by private developers, and then to penalise those local communities if those builders do not deliver.

“This risks leading to a housebuilding free-for-all which will bypass the needs of local communities and could damage trust in the planning system. The government needs to scrap these plans to avoid this alarming scenario playing out across the country. Councils are committed to ensuring homes are built where they are needed. It is vital that they have an oversight of local developments and are given the powers needed to play a leading role in solving our national housing shortage.”

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